Letters to the Editor,
The Daly Yomiuri
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
When we are taught about the Nazi Holocaust, when we talk about it, and when it is mentioned in the media the figure of six million murdered Jews is the standard accounting of the planned genocide. But when I was in school I was taught that the Holocaust targeted many more than just European Jewry: Polish and Russian prisoners of war; political foes in Germany and occupied lands; Gypsies; gays; the mentally infirm, and still others. I was taught that the total accounting of lives, while unknown, is in the area of ten million, six million of whom were Jewish. ut I suppose most people who know about the Holocaust from their school lessons are aware only of the Jewish figures which receive the greatest publicity, and so the April 5tharticle “U.S. exhibit explores Nazi’s gay persecution” describes what might be news to many (the Nazi persecution of gays). The total scope of the Holocaust’s victims has never been a secret, just as the fate of Nanjing was no secret before the Iris Chang book on the topic, or the detention in domestic concentration camps of Japanese Americans by their government was no secret - even at the time that the policy was being executed. But the public is forgetful. The public has limited attention. Younger generations repeatedly need instruction in old news anew. The grave and dangerous peril is that when we forget information - and there is just too much information for all of it to be known - it becomes more easily manipulated. I have a very broad definition of what constitutes “public knowledge,” or information in the public realm which makes me feel annoyed when I see old news treated as a novelty.
Printed on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 as “Old news shouldn’t be treated as a novelty.”
This was my first letter to appear in The Daily Yomiuri in a long time. When I first began writing to The Daily Yomiuri I thought that it was easier to get printed there than in The Japan Times. The paper seemed to print letters more frequently. But over time I would say that the paper is so conservative compared to The Japan Times that it is actually more difficult to get printed there, especially if the opinion does not match the paper’s political position.